5 Answers To Questions You Didn't Know You Had (Part 2)
I didn't pay much attention in school, which is probably why I have so many questions about the world. And why I do this for a living.
As I explained last time, I've been making a conscious effort to keep little random questions that pop into my head every day in mind so I can look them up later to educate myself the way I actively prevented any teacher from doing. The column you're about to read is the result of this admittedly unimpressive effort to remember to do basic things. But in the spirit of full disclosure, the questions that pop into my head can be a little ... odd. For instance ...
What Does Human Meat Taste Like?
Even if you aren't a legit cannibal and you've only eaten someone for basic survival, the stigma is going to be a bitch to scrub off. If you're capable of eating someone at a party, that will be the elephant in the room every time you attend one. That's a shitty reputation. And you know legitimate cannibals are crazy because they accept that possibility with open arms. And that's how I figure human meat must be pretty good. Why risk being socially ostracized if people aren't delicious, right?
Right. Now that I've deduced that humans are yummy as fuck, it still feels too general. I want to know what we taste like, specifically.
The consensus among several real-life cannibals who were asked that very question is pork. In 2007, German cannibal Armin Meiwes described the flavor as "like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good." Serial killer and cannibal Arthur Shawcross said humans taste like fresh ham, maybe even a little like roasted pork.
Other cannibals disagree.
Peter Bryan described his victim's arms and legs as tasting like chicken, but that's such a cliche answer, Peter. Either develop a more refined palate or expand your reference points.
Jeffery Dahmer once likened the flavor of a thigh/bicep/internal organ stir fry to a filet mignon, which means human meat is overpriced and tastes like nothing. Eating people would be totally worth it if he said ribeye. I have standards.
Others were a little too general in their description. Omaima Nelson was a former model whose career to the unexpected downturn when she ate her husband. She said husband meat is "so sweet." Same as late-1800s American prospector/cannibal Alfred Packer, who described the taste of his prospecting party as "the sweetest meat," which is too pervy. That's the name Matthew McConaughey gave to his penis.
So taking the most believable, trusted cannibals at their word, human meat tastes like sweet pork.
Why Don't School Buses Have Seat Belts?
Most school buses don't have seat belts for their passengers. Bus seat belts are mandatory in only six out of 50 states in the U.S. At least 18 others are considering such laws, but haven't gotten around to it yet. So a majority of kids are at risk of banging on everything as they flop around the inside of a bus.
Federal law only requires seat belts in school buses that weigh under 10,000 pounds. On a federal level, only short buses which transport disabled students require seat belts. Every other bus is a giant lottery ball machine where the balls are made of people.
The typical long yellow school buses you have in mind right now have been deemed so safe by federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they think seat belts aren't even necessary. It has to do with the modern design.
To describe a child in a school bus accident prior to mandated design changes in 1977, Indianapolis Monthly magazine said, it's like "placing an egg in a toolbox full of wrenches and gasoline, then throwing it down a flight of stairs and hoping it came out unbroken." That's the most graphic sentence about a toolbox I've ever seen.
Fearing that we were at risk of turning our nation's children into wrenches (I may have misunderstood the metaphor), the NHTSA packed bus seats closer together and gave them shock-absorbing steel skeletons. They raised the seat backs and bolted them to the floor (did the seats just slide around before that?). The buses' fuel systems were improved to reduce the chance of roasting children. New mirrors were added so drivers could see whether kids were standing so they could brake real quick to teach them a lesson. And joints were strengthened to reduce the likelihood of buses shredding apart in an accident like a race car slamming into a corner at 200 mph. It's a miracle anyone survived the '70s.
They basically redesigned buses like egg cartons. Kids can't get hurt if their bodies have nowhere to move. It wouldn't hurt to put seat belts in, but it's just an added expense for a vehicle that's already considered the safest form of transportation there is. Though I don't see how they're safer than parade floats. They go one mile an hour and are covered in soft mascots.
Why Is Breakfast In America Mostly Dessert Food?
It wouldn't make sense if one of our daily meals was just a cake. Yet that's what a lot of American breakfast food is -- waffles, pancakes, croissants, French toast, almost everything in the cereal aisle, donuts, muffins, and all the weird sub-categories, variations, and cultural twists on each. It's dessert you eat in the morning to get a jump start on your diabetes. How did American breakfast menus come to look like they were written by pudgy children with Kool-Aid-stained lips?
The culture of eating dessert in the morning was imported from all over the world, but we perfected it. And America defines "perfected" as "taken to its most self-destructive extreme." And we can blame the Dutch for that. They brought pancakes, waffles, and donuts to America in the early 1600s. Nobody knew what time of day we should be eating any of them, so we ate them whenever the hell we wanted. Since they were bread-adjacent, we defaulted to eating them for dinner, like we do garlic bread with a bowl of pasta or a donut with salmon.
It stayed that way, until one day we decided to not wait several hours to be our worst selves. Thin crepe-like pancakes were a staple of American dinners during the Revolutionary War. Then people added a leavening agent to make them rise and realized we'd all be much better off if we started our day with fleeting joy.
Donuts weren't associated with breakfast until we invented machines that could mass-produce them, which led to donuts showing up in more bakeries. This coincided with the increased availability of coffee in bakeries. People stopped in to grab a morning cup, and the sensual allure of glaze compelled them to grab a donut as well.
Pop-Tarts and sugary cereals were a direct result of America's obsession with convenience. Why make a whole meal of proteins when you can heat this pale slip of crumbly pastry with a thin smattering of fruity sugar sludge in a toaster real quick and launch out the door with your warm heart disease delivery device a minute later?
Why Do Buttholes Have Hair?
Did our anuses need to be kept warm in the winter? Is butthole hair there to reduce the friction between our butt cheeks so our pants don't catch fire? Evolution-wise, it seems counterproductive. The poop would stick to it and cause disease in primitive people who didn't buy wet wipes, right?
The frustrating thing about this question, which seems like it should have a simple definitive answer, is that it doesn't. We've had them since forever, but we have no idea why we've got dry thickets of spooky forest vines surrounding our stink knots like they're protecting the outside world from the witch that lives within. But we do have solid theories that we're running with, since no one is brave enough to study asshole hair for a living. Turns out my joke about reducing friction between cheeks might be part of the explanation. Another is that butt pubes (bubes) might have something to do with olfactory communication.
See, your unique stink is your body's way of releasing pheromones that tell those around you a little something about yourself that they'd rather not know. One theory is that we're kind of like dogs, in that the stench of our assholes was one of the ways we once communicated -- and we still do. For instance, when you fart in an elevator, you're telling passengers you're a terrorist. The hair traps our unique natural body odors, which supposedly let other (I guess) people know who you are. So if you wax off your asshole hair, you're a step closer to going off the grid. Soon, you'll be free to spend your days building bombs and putting the finishing touches on your manifesto in your cabin in the Ozarks.
Do Chickens Care That We Take Their Eggs?
I don't want to speak for chickens, but if I were a chicken and I spent all that time making eggs in my chicken womb and then popped a few out of my chicken tube, and then some human came in and tried to take it, I'd be like, "Wha? No." Then again, maybe I'm putting too many human qualities on poultry. I mean, it turns out that chickens don't have vaginas and roosters don't have penises, so they don't have sex the way you're imagining. But still, I'd imagine that any animal would get a little riled up if you try to take away their babies. But I don't often hear about hens trying to peck out Farmer John's still-beating heart after he tried to steal their eggs. Do hens even give a shit that we've industrialized the kidnapping of their children?
Depends on the chicken.
If they're taking eggs from non-commercial breeds, there's an element of timing involved. Hens form a "clutch" of eggs, which is when they lay up to 20 eggs but don't actually do anything with them. They're saving them up until the day their hormones ignite and they're overcome with the desire to sit on the eggs and turn them into chicks. Try to take an egg from a brooding hen and pretty much nothing will happen; it'll be pissed, but it's a chicken and we invented the Naked Chicken Chalupa. What are they gonna do?
Wild hens won't lay another egg until their previous bunch has grown up and moved out of the house. By taking the eggs before they hatch, farmers are tricking hens into entering an infinite cycle of laying eggs which they, in their tiny chicken brains, probably think are duds.
Jesus, that's dark. But surely, commercial factory-farmed chickens have it much better!
Brooding over an egg has been bred out of some commercial hybrid hens. The ones used for large-scale egg farming have had the will to fight back against a huge alien overlord stealing their young scrubbed from their instincts, which sometimes results in them crapping out an egg and walking away like they don't even give a shit anymore. That's almost as sad as the infinite loop of chicken infertility.
As a counterpoint, here's a picture of a really good breakfast sandwich I made the other day:
Much respect, lady chickens.
Human meat tastes sweet, and you can try some.
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